Dorothy the Brave

by Meghan P Browne (Author) Brooke Smart (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

The empowering story of a real-life Rosie the Riveter who served as a Women Airforce Service Pilot.

Dorothy Lucas yearned to discover all that she was capable of. After the devastating news of Pearl Harbor, her brothers joined the World War II war effort, but Dorothy wanted to do her part, too. So, she enlisted to serve as a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP). After hours of flight school and roaring engines, Dorothy and her fellow WASPs risked their lives towing targets in the air for the male fighter pilots in training. Through many mechanical scares and smoke-filled cockpits, Dorothy remained brave and committed to her job--defying gravity and defying the odds.

With lyrical text from Meghan P. Browne and striking illustrations by Brooke Smart, Dorothy the Brave tells an untold story of a real-life Rosie the Riveter, and how women worked to keep America safe during a harrowing time.

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Sisterhood, hard work, overcoming obstacles, missing home, wartime loss. The journey of Dorothy Lucas to becoming a pilot in the Women Airforce Service Pilots during WWII touches on all of these themes and more.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-4--A child during the Great Depression, and a young woman when Pearl Harbor was attacked, Dorothy Lucas wanted to aid the war effort like her older brothers, so she joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Dorothy and the other "fly girls" towed targets for (male) gunnery pilots. Young readers may be confused by some details (why did Dorothy need to leave home before high school?) and need context for others (women "riveted like Rosie" and "nursed like Kate"). The ending is somewhat abrupt, though an author's note provides more information. The gouache, watercolor, and colored pencil illustrations are reminiscent of Maira Kalman's style. Back matter includes an author's note, photos, and recommended reading. VERDICT Women's contributions during wartime are not a new subject, but this is a worthwhile addition.--Jenny Arch

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.


A stirring account of a resolute woman who soared.

Review quotes

Meghan P Browne
Meghan P. Browne is working toward her MFA at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. This is her debut picture book. Meghan lives on and runs a farm in South Austin, Texas, called the Honey Browne Farm. Visit her on Twitter at @meghanpbrowne.

Carlynn Whitt is an artist, illustrator, and occasional animator. Currently based in Los Angeles, Carlynn's work frequently reinterprets found photographs and engages issues of femininity, beauty, consumerism, and mortality. She is a RISD alum and a native Texan.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication date
March 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JNF007020 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Historical
JNF023000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Girls & Women
JNF057010 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Transportation | Aviation
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
United States
World War, 1939-1945
Women air pilots
Women Airforce Service Pilots (U.S.)
Lucas, Dorothy Ann

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